Acorn Early Learning Centre - 10/04/2015

1. Evaluation of Acorn Early Learning Centre

How well placed is Acorn Early Learning Centre to promote positive learning outcomes for children?

Not well placed

Requires further development

Well placed

Very well placed

ERO's findings that support this overall judgement are summarised below.


Acorn Early Learning Centre operates in a residential area in St. Heliers, Auckland. It provides good quality full-day and sessional education and care for children from six months to five years of age. The centre is licensed for 80 children, including up to 23 children aged under two years.

The centre’s philosophy focuses on the values of kindness and respect, bicultural practices and responsiveness to children and their families and whānau. Teachers enact these philosophy expectations in their practices. Education and care is guided by Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, and by aspects of Reggio Emilia approaches.

Staff are managed and led by the business owners who are highly involved in the daily running of the centre. They have been careful to employ teachers with complementary strengths and who share the centre’s vision. The majority of teachers are fully qualified.

The ERO 2012 report identified good practices that contributed to positive outcomes for children. These included teachers’ caring and supportive interactions with children and parents/whānau, and the centre’s commitment to proving high quality care for children. These practices are still evident.

The Review Findings

Children demonstrate a strong sense of well being and belonging in the centre. Staff are sensitive and responsive to the needs of individual children and families and whānau. The carefully considered and well planned environment provides children with an inviting variety of attractively presented play spaces.

Children are happy, engaged and able to sustain their play and learning through the use of purposeful and plentiful resources. Friendships between children are fostered and evident. Teachers provide opportunities for children to work together in small groups.

There are many opportunities for children to discover and explore early literacy, science, numeracy ideas and to develop their creativity through everyday activities. Regular excursions from the centre also play an important role in enriching and supporting children’s learning. A programme for older children helps support their transitioning to school.

Infants and toddlers are cared for in a separate room that allows them to explore and learn at their own pace. Gentle, respectful teaching practices encourage the development of strong, positive relationships between these young children and teachers. Carefully considered transition procedures are used to move toddlers through to the preschool room.

Teachers work well together to deliver a programme that is responsive to the interests of children. They skilfully record children’s learning and development in attractively presented portfolios that are well used by children and their families. Teachers are continuing to investigate how children’s questions can be used more purposefully to drive the direction of the programme. They are also committed to strengthening bi-cultural dimensions of the centre's programme.

The importance of learning through play is prioritised and valued. The spacious outdoor environments provide ample room for children to explore, take on new challenges and problem solve. Centre routines have been reviewed in consultation with families. Routines now offer opportunities for children to engage in sustained, uninterrupted play and learning.

Teachers continue to focus on building partnerships with parents to support children’s learning by gathering their aspirations and expectations. Parents interviewed by ERO value the strong commitment from the staff to meeting the needs of families and children. They expressed appreciation for the variety of regular centre events offered.

Centre governance and management practices are effective. The management team provides regular professional development for staff. Self review is regular, useful and its purpose is well understood. The owners’ generous financial commitment helps ensure centre equipment, resources and property are well maintained and continue to be developed.

Key Next Steps

To support continuous improvement centre leaders should develop more evaluative self review across all areas of centre operations.

Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff and management of Acorn Early Learning Centre completed an ERO Centre Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. In these documents they attested that they have taken all reasonable steps to meet their legal obligations related to:

  • curriculum
  • premises and facilities
  • health and safety practices
  • governance, management and administration.

During the review, ERO looked at the service’s systems for managing the following areas that have a potentially high impact on children's wellbeing:

  • emotional safety (including positive guidance and child protection)
  • physical safety (including supervision; sleep procedures; accidents; medication; hygiene; excursion policies and procedures)
  • suitable staffing (including qualification levels; police vetting; teacher registration; ratios)
  • evacuation procedures and practices for fire and earthquake.

All early childhood services are required to promote children's health and safety and to regularly review their compliance with legal requirements.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the service again?

The next ERO review of Acorn Early Learning Centre will be in three years.

Dale Bailey Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

10 April 2015

The Purpose of ERO Reports

The Education Review Office (ERO) is the government department that, as part of its work, reviews early childhood services throughout Aotearoa New Zealand. ERO’s reports provide information for parents and communities about each service’s strengths and next steps for development. ERO’s bicultural evaluation framework Ngā Pou Here is described in SECTION 3 of this report. Early childhood services are partners in the review process and are expected to make use of the review findings to enhance children's wellbeing and learning.

2. Information about the Early Childhood Service


St Heliers, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Licence type

Education & Care Service

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

80 children, including up to 23 aged under 2

Service roll


Gender composition

Girls 55 Boys 50

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā





Percentage of qualified teachers

0-49% 50-79% 80%

Based on funding rates


Reported ratios of staff to children

Under 2


Better than minimum requirements


Over 2


Better than minimum requirements

Review team on site

January 2015

Date of this report

10 April 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

February 2009


Education Review

March 2006

3. General Information about Early Childhood Reviews

ERO’s Evaluation Framework

ERO’s overarching question for an early childhood education review is ‘How well placed is this service to promote positive learning outcomes for children?’ ERO focuses on the following factors as described in the bicultural framework Ngā Pou Here:

Pou Whakahaere – how the service determines its vision, philosophy and direction to ensure positive outcomes for children

Pou Ārahi – how leadership is enacted to enhance positive outcomes for children

Mātauranga – whose knowledge is valued and how the curriculum is designed to achieve positive outcomes for children

Tikanga whakaako – how approaches to teaching and learning respond to diversity and support positive outcomes for children.

Within these areas ERO considers the effectiveness of arotake – self review and of whanaungatanga – partnerships with parents and whānau.

ERO evaluates how well placed a service is to sustain good practice and make ongoing improvements for the benefit of all children at the service.

A focus for the government is that all children, especially priority learners, have an opportunity to benefit from quality early childhood education. ERO will report on how well each service promotes positive outcomes for all children, with a focus on children who are Māori, Pacific, have diverse needs, and are up to the age of two.

For more information about the framework and Ngā Pou Here refer to ERO’s Approach to Review in Early Childhood Services.

ERO’s Overall Judgement and Next Review

The overall judgement that ERO makes and the timing of the next review will depend on how well placed a service is to promote positive learning outcomes for children. The categories are:

  • Very well placed – The next ERO review in four years
  • Well placed – The next ERO review in three years
  • Requires further development – The next ERO review within two years
  • Not well placed - The next ERO review in consultation with the Ministry of Education

ERO has developed criteria for each category. These are available on ERO’s website.

Review Coverage

ERO reviews are tailored to each service’s context and performance, within the overarching review framework. The aim is to provide information on aspects that are central to positive outcomes for children and useful to the service.